I spent a couple of days with my Uncle John before the start of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly in Houston. He lives just up the road in Brookshire, Texas. He has lived other places in his adult life, but he has always seemed to end up back in Houston. Houston just did something for him.
When I was a little boy, Houston was where he came from when he would visit Mammaw and Pappaw in East Tennessee. I realize now that his coming home at the holidays or in the summer made the world a larger place for me. At the time, my mom’s youngest sister still lived at home in Ozone with my grandparents, my mom’s older sister lived in Crossville, her younger brother lived in Rockwood and my dad’s sister lived in Rockwood. My earliest world existed in the distance between Rockwood and Crossville. Knoxville and Chattanooga were places that I had heard of, but rarely if ever visited. Everyone I knew lived somewhere between Rockwood and Crossville. That is except for Uncle John. He lived in Houston which seemed impossibly far away to me as a little boy. Somehow by his living there he made the world a bigger place for me.
Now, when I think about the places I have been and the people that I have met I cannot help but think that I have been to those places and met those people at least in part because of Uncle John. Funny the things we learn when we don’t know that we are learning from those around us who have no idea that they are teaching us.
The world is much smaller now made so by the perspective of time and the innovations of technology. That is a good thing for us as followers of Christ because we are a going people. We are called each day to continue the journey of faith that Christ has called us to. Sometimes that journey takes us across the street to our next door neighbor and sometimes it means we wait at home while those we love travel to a neighboring country as we have for the past two weeks with our young people in Canada. Geography is part of the faith journey, but not just in MapQuest, GPS sort of way. Spiritually, when we open our lives to God and let God do with us as God will, we find ourselves in situations with people that we would never have met otherwise. These encounters cause to think about our preconceived ideas of different kinds of people and the fears we have been taught to associate with them.
After enough such encounters, we realize that it not just our perspective of the size of the world that has changed, but our perspective about people in the world and in our own lives. Just as there is always room for one more at the table of the Lord, so to there is room for another alongside us as we continue our journey of faith. Just as the world is much more than the distance between Rockwood and Crossville, so to are the opportunities God has for us to connect with people, offer grace and share Christ’s love.